Local brand, People of Colour, creates conversation and awareness

by Roman Cohen

Clothing brand, People of Colour, provides opportunities for people to examine their conscious behavior as it relates to discrimination and racism.

People of Colour is a clothing brand created by Darius Northern, a senior studying public health at Oregon State University. Northern produces content that will conjure up thought; the clothing is intended to make the person standing next to you or sitting behind you in class think about what is written on the clothing.

“I want it to be provocative but not disrespectful. That is the mission around the content I make,” said Northern.

Growing up in the South in Tennessee and moving to Oregon was a culture shock for Darius Northern. Through his experience in this environment, Northern had to think about his race every day. For him it became exhausting and he had to find a way to channel his frustration.

“That is what inspired my brand by feeling uncomfortable, being frustrated, feeling exhausted. I just wanted to channel that through clothing and express myself.” said Northern.

Northern and his cousin had this saying “put it on a shirt.” After a while, he was able to learn from YouTube how to screen print words onto a shirt. By doing this, Northern was able to create moments where people could tap into the uncomfortable feeling he was experiencing on campus. He would go to class and put small questions on the back of his shirt.

“People of Colour stands out to me because its unifying of everybody, it connects the community. I’m from a town in California where diversity is everywhere, my high school was the most diverse in the country my senior year.  Now I’m at OSU where diversity isn’t as evident so it’s cool to see a brand that’s connecting everyone, regardless of background,” said Adam Rateb, OSU student and People of Colour Model.

As far as the goal of the brand, Northern is starting small. He’s looking at it from a marathon point of view.

“I’m not trying to sprint anywhere,” said Northern.

People of Color has had international orders, but Darius’ focus right now is Oregon State and feeding the students who love and support the mission of the brand. His goal is to keep representing Oregon State students and creating a presence on campus. After Oregon State, he hopes to expand to University of Oregon, Portland State, the state of Oregon, the west coast and then finally evolve into something national.

“85 percent of the content I produce I relate to personally,” said Northern.

The process that goes into creating a shirt is quite simple. A lot of the content that goes into the shirt is from Northern’s personal experience, listening to people, having conversations with his friends, YouTube, and Instagram. He gets inspired from everywhere which then creates an idea and he runs with it.

“As a designer Darius’s brand is breaking barriers, he is turning his personal experience into an art form that people can wear and create conversations that need to be had, and that is what fashion is,” said Amber Hill, Apparel Design Student at OSU.

Northern’s next step is tapping into queer people of color, a section he was yet to get in contact with. “I need to open myself up to those experiences and connect with people who identify as queer to inspire content,” said Northern.

Northern wants to create content for every genre of color whether you are straight, queer, biracial, or multiracial. Northern said, “For those who see my brand I want them to feel a tad bit uncomfortable, but uncomfortable in a constructive way.”

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